It seems as if every time you open your browser, one marketing technology company is buying another. While I understand the perception of MarTech market consolidation, I don’t share it. Every M&A is publicized — but for every merger, there are more companies emerging to meet the shifting needs of marketers or simply to capitalize on the tremendous MarTech market opportunity.

I live it. My team is evaluating new tools every month. In fact, Scott Brinker’s MarTech Landscape this year showed that the number of identifiable MarTech providers at least doubled from last year to this. Don’t expect it to shrink in 2016. Driven by the need for big data and the mass availability of app-like, configurable cloud services, the market will continue to grow for at least another five years.

It may have taken a while, but marketing is finally catching up to the rest of the organization. Marketing is one of the few business functions that has yet to automate. Manufacturing went through this shift in the 80s and 90s; IT did the same during the 90s and 00s; and sales and HR have followed suit. Now, it’s marketing’s turn to get automated to enable smarter, faster and cheaper engagement with customers. Marketing is undergoing a massive transformation, primarily driven by its customers’ changing expectations.

By embracing the following four catalysts, marketers can capitalize on how MarTech can increase business revenues and facilitate customer growth.

1. Data Tsunami

A 2015 report by 451 Research predicts that the total data market will nearly double in size between the end of 2014 and 2019, reaching $115 billion. This deluge of data pours out from third-party digital, mobile, social and offline data touchpoints. Mix in the internal data generated by marketing resources like an organization’s website, marketing automation and CRM systems, and you have a tsunami of data. Because CMOs are becoming more responsible for driving revenue and demonstrating ROI, marketers must be diligent about organizing and leveraging this abundance of data. This demands connecting all sources of data and piecing together comprehensive narratives of individual buyers that can then be used to personalize, engage and create happy, loyal customers.

2. Configurable Marketing Clouds and Open Platforms

While marketing clouds from the “big dog” players like IBM, Adobe and Oracle have grand ideas for the future (and they are making progress), the reality is most marketers are cobbling disparate tools together to fashion their own marketing tech stacks. Because the industry as a whole has yet to establish a common set of definitions and functions, marketing organizations should leverage marketing apps and configurable cloud services, organized in their own MarTech stacks, to deliver the capabilities and data needed to meet business goals. This underscores the need for open platforms and integration of core marketing technology.

3. Connected Distribution Channels

Customer and content distribution channels (media partners, such as publishers and ad networks, social platforms and AdTech) are flowing more and richer data to marketers. For marketers, this means connecting your media sources to your MarTech stack to automate and act on data in real-time. Centralizing and standardizing these sources will enable marketers to combine data sources efficiently, creating a consolidated and detailed profile of both customers and marketing performance.

4. Data-Savvy Marketers

The next generation of marketers must be digital-native, tech-savvy and data-centric. CMOs and marketing leaders must develop and recruit passionately for this talent, as it will make the difference between success and failure. Leaders must also embrace and invest in technology and data tools to empower the new breed of data-driven marketers. We are making progress on tech investment as, according to IDC, marketers are allocating three to five percent of their budgets to technology, with some even approaching 10 percent. By opening their minds and portfolios to new data skills, marketers must also trust in the reimagined marketing and demand gen processes, letting data be the primary guide for what programs and channels are best for their efforts.

From these four catalysts, it is evident that the increased need for MarTech has caused a very profound change in what’s possible. So what can marketers do to avoid falling victim to this continually evolving landscape and building the proverbial “Frankenstack”?

  • Get stakeholder buy-in (sales, marketing, finance, for example), agreeing on KPI metrics and assuring goals are aligned around business and customers.
  • Invest in and develop a MarTech stack that is open, app-like and integrated by using a “blueprint” to identify needs, gaps, providers and opportunities for consolidation.
  • Continuously recruit tech-savvy talent. Not all have to be data scientists but they must be equipped to use data as a core part of their role and process.
  • Standardize and integrate your data sources – online and offline – to empower your team to personalize and optimize customer experiences and marketing investments.
  • Let performance data be your guide. Learn from the data and use it to improve marketing efforts, shift strategies and achieve goals.

The MarTech landscape will continue to grow and shift. Embrace it. Don’t get caught up in industry hype or fear-mongering. Partner with your core MarTech providers and get them working for you to deliver on your goals.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License Title image by  André Hofmeister